Beneath the Red Moon Feb 4, 2019 17:08:42 GMT
Post by LiquidChicagoTed on Feb 4, 2019 17:08:42 GMT
Beneath the Red Moon - The Orkland and the Valley of Svelt
In the northwestern corner of Aventuria lies the Orkland. Surrounded by jagged mountain ranges to all sides, the vast, mostly barren plains are home to the utmost majority of the orkish race in Aventuria. It is a harsh land, not particularly fertile, although the mountains give it a natural defense from outside forces. Not that many have an interest to travel there, much less attack the homeland of the orks. There are few forests and even fewer rivers or lakes, which means that by nature, most of the inhabitants of the land are nomadic and predatory in their nature. The apex predator of the Orkland are, without any doubt, the race that gave the region its name.
Due to its layout, the Orkland encourages nomadic behaviour and there are only a handful of constantly inhabited cities within the entire region. The only one of note is Khezzara, capital of the orkish race, from which their leaders rule over the entire Orkland. Most of the time, the orks roam the Orkland as nomads and their settlements are rarely built to last, as the harsh, open plains, the rarity of wood and the constantly warring nature of the Orks make for less than ideal conditions.
Orks are roughly humanoid in size, often slightly smaller, but equally muscular, usually on the stocky side. They have broad faces with stern, brutish features, bearing no more than a fleeting resemblance to humans beyond their general build. By human standards, orks are usually considered ugly, but more than that, their features are terrifying and downright demonic to the general human population. Orks always have black hair and a skin in a shade of grey. While they are capable of growing out hair on their head and beard, their entire body is furthermore covered in very short, but dense hair, which is almost always black in colour and unlike the hair on their head, it never greys with age. Due to this, they are often derogatorily called “Blackfurs” by other races. While not the only derogatory name they have, it is by far the most common one. That being said, it is not always correct, as there are some smaller ork tribes with naturally brown or white fur. The Blackfurs make up the majority of the orkish race, though, and they are what comes to mind when other races speak of Orks.
The early history of the orks is shrouded in myth. Their language, the Ologhaijan, or High Orkish, knows no written tradition and history is instead told by shamans and storytellers. What is known is that they were directly created by Brazoragh, their most important deity, probably roughly a hundred thousand years ago. The Orkland was a harsh home and the early orkish history is a series of neverending wars for survival, where only the strongest, most ruthless and brutal orks were able to survive.
This was a blessing for the surrounding humans, who lived in the regions that were later known as Thorwal, the Valley of Svelt and the northern Middenrealm. While orks were always a threat to those living directly near the borders of the Orkland, few of their kind ever ventured far beyond the Orkland. A particularly hateful rivalry was created with the elves, whom the orks downright massacred in the border regions. In retaliation, the ancient High Elves were responsible for magically confining the orkish race into the Orklands for several centuries, up until the collapse of the High Elven empire.
The Orks have always been aggressive towards their neighbours and towards each other. In their society, the strong lead and the weak follow. This worldview is directly influenced by Brazoragh, whom the orks worship as a god of battle, bravery, virility and strength. He wields fire and storm and is often seen as more a force of nature than a true god. Brazoragh himself is responsible for murdering his own father, Tairach, whom the orks still worship as a god of blood, death, spirits and knowledge. Tairach now rules over the orkish Underworld and the souls of the dead. They believe that it was this deed which allowed Brazoragh to create the orkish race and end the icy grip the cruel Tairach had over the entire north of Aventuria. Both of these chief gods are seen as mercurial and terrifying, even by their worshippers, although it is known that they can be appeased and grant favours to their chosen champions. Other important gods are Gravesh, the god of craftsmanship and fire and Rikai, god of agriculture and healing, who themselves are likely merely orkish terms for the gods Ingerimm and Peraine.
In the world Brazoragh envisioned for his children, only the strong have any worth and the strongest of them all are, of course, the orks themselves. This deep conviction, the knowledge of their own superiority over other races plays a big part in the orkish aggression towards their neighbours. Interactions are not entirely hostile and there has always been some minor trading going on between orks and humans, but most orks look down upon anyone who is not an ork. Positive interactions between humans and orks can be found especially outside of the Orkland. The Valley of Svelt sees orks and humans living side by side, there are orks who serve in human mercenary groups (or as bandits, side by side with human outlaws) and one of their tribes, the Truanzhai orks, live within the city of Thorwal as a respected part of the Thorwalian society.
As virtually the only culture in Aventuria, orks don’t just have different roles for each gender, they have a strict and harsh inequality between male and female orks. Only male orks are seen as full orks, created in Brazoragh’s image. Female orks are usually seen as little more than animals, used for breeding purposes and to do menial labours, which the proud orks see as beneath them. That being said, they are not less intelligent than male orks, or less capable, even if they are notably less numerous. The only orkish women with any sort of meaningful power are those who serve the god Rikai, who is worshiped as a god of agriculture and healing, both of which are rare and therefore valuable in the barren Orkland.
The orks are divided into tribes and castes. The difference between castes is the most important aspect of the orkish society. At the top of their system lies the caste of the Harodrak, which consists of shamans, priests of Brazoragh and Tairach and tribe leaders. Beneath them comes the Okwach, the elite warriors, hunters and craftsmen of each tribe, then the Khurkach, the common warriors, the Drasdech, the common craftsmen, the Grishik, the common farmers and the Ergoch, the slaves. Their caste is the most numerous one and consists even of non-orkish prisoners of war. The lowest of all castes are the Yurach, who are orks who have been cast out of their tribes.
There are several tribes, each with their own strengths, but tribes come and go within the orkish society, as wars between different tribes are quite common. Defeated tribes are occasionally entirely annihilated, with survivors being brought into the victorious tribe. Most orks are skilled and dangerous fighters. They are known to be capable riders and archers, with their tactics of mounted archery giving them a natural advantage within their homeland. Their bows are shorter and heavier than human bows and the same applies to their horses, who are often just as stocky and strong as their masters. Raiders are viewed in high regards by the orks and often, they are the ones who help their tribe to survive the harsh challenges of the Orkland.
Despite their aggressive nature, orks have a deep respect for wisdom and knowledge and view their shamans in high regards. Ghosts are an important part of the orkish life, as shamans are able to commune with the dead, summoning them to listen to their wisdom and advice. Orkish rituals are dark, frightening and often bloody, as blood itself also plays a key role in the orkish religion. Sacrifices are common to please their gods and not a day passes where a slave or disgraced ork is not ritually killed by the shamans in order to grant strength and divine favour upon their warriors. The moon is also central to the orkish beliefs and it is known that orkish mages and shamans are most powerful at night. Rarely, a red moon rises over the Orkland, which is always seen as a sign of fortune for the orkish race.
As those who commune with the orkish gods, the shamans are the only ones who can unite the warring tribes for higher goals. However, the shamans themselves are still orks, so it takes the biggest, strongest and most ruthless shaman to unite them under one goal. In the entire orkish history, less than a handful of these individuals are recorded. They are known as the Aikar Brazoragh, the chosen of Brazoragh, who are outfitted with divine power beyond anything the other shamans could hope to wield. The rise of an Aikar Brazoragh always leads to a rise of the orkish culture in general, leading to a time where the orks build an actual empire within their lands and where they lead actual invasions to the surrounding lands. The Aikar Brazoragh is virtually immortal, capable to live far beyond the average lifespan of an ork and over time, they become more and more an avatar of Brazoragh
One such invasion happened only recently, after the rise of the most recent Aikar Brazoragh, Ashim Riak Assai. The brilliant Ashim and his closest warlords, the Black Marshall Sadrak Whassoi and the High Shaman Uigar Kai, united the orkish tribes and created the Empire of Khezzara. Led by the trio, they invaded the Valley of Svelt and the Middenrealm, overrunning and occupying the former and dealing a severe blow to the latter, in what would later be known as the Orkenstorm. Together, they besieged the border city of Griffinsford, eventually capturing and occupying it for years, before devastating the Duchy of Meadows and the northern part of Garetia. Their invasion was stopped only a few miles north of Gareth, capital of the Middenrealm.
This battle, now known as the Battle of the Silkplains, in which the humans were led by the seasoned High Marshall Helme Haffax and the inexperienced Prince Brin of Gareth, was a turning point in the Orkenstorm and essentially ended Ashim’s chance at bringing down the most powerful human realm in Aventuria. While the invasion did not break the Middenrealm and actually massively weakened the orkish tribes, it was enough to give them a newly found confidence and conviction that they are indeed the chosen race of Brazoragh. Ever since, orkish raids beyond the borders of the Orkland have grown particularly fierce.
The Valley of Svelt
The region closest to the Orkland is the Valley of Svelt. Unlike the Orkland, it is naturally fertile and a heaven for settlers. The influence of the Middenrealm does not reach into it, which means that the region has always been without a clear leader. Instead, the cities and many of the villages used to be independent, although they were loosely organized in the Alliance of Sveltish Cities. The most important of these cities were Lowangen, Deepenborg, Gashok, Tjolmar and Riva and they regulated trade and laws between each other.
Without the influence of the Middenrealm, the Valley of Svelt has always been a haven for outlaws, who had to be on the run from Middenrealm authorities. As such, the region is considered wild and lawless and indeed, there has always been a higher amount of bandit groups in the largely unexplored wilds of the vast valley. However, this is only part of the truth. A majority of those who move into the Valley of Svelt are innocent settlers, who seek new beginnings beyond the borders of their old homes.
The lack of Middenrealm influence proved to be more curse than blessing during the Orkenstorm. The Orks attacked the Valley of Svelt first and out of the cities of the Alliance, only the northern Riva was spared. The miner’s city of Tjolmar fell first, due to their dwarven population betraying the human city guard. This betrayal earned them the ire of the entire Valley of Svelt, as Tjolmar guarded one of the few passes into the valley itself and its quick fall meant that the orkish horde was able to attack the other cities without giving them much time to prepare. However, it eventually proved to be a good thing for Tjolmar, as the dwarves were able to negotiate a largely peaceful surrender. Nowadays, Tjolmar is the only city within the orkish territory of the Valley of Svelt which doesn’t have to bow to the orks, or deliver a hefty tribute.
The cities of Deepenborg and Gashok, however, were overrun by the orks. Nowadays, while the old rulers of the city are still nominally in charge, orkish warlords hold the true power and they take heavy tributes from the human population of the cities. Lowangen was besieged for years, but managed to resist and eventually make peace with the orks, after they were defeated by the Middenrealm. Smaller cities and villages, however, were less fortunate, as they were often plundered and destroyed by the marauding horde.
Today, massive portions of the Valley of Svelt are under orkish occupation. Three large tribes have taken control of the region, often settling down in the occupied cities, something that was previously unknown for the nomadic orks. Life under the orkish rule is hard, but not always bad, as they have brought a sense of order and stability to the region, as the orkish warlords are often surprisingly reasonable. Their rule also grants protection from the orkish raids that were once so common in these lands. On the other hand, the already heavy bandit problem within the region has grown even worse now that smaller tribes of orks, unwilling to submit to the ruling tribes, have joined the human outlaw groups. Now, several years after the Orkenstorm has ended, the first settlers return to the Valley of Svelt, having to face additional problems.
By nature, each ork has only one name when they are born. For outstanding skills or feats, they can be granted a second name, which they use alongside their first. Orks don’t have family names, but some of them add the name of their tribe to their full name, to display loyalty to their leaders. As such, the Aikar Brazorag, Ashim Riak Assai, was born as simply Ashim, but at some point in his early life, he was granted the right to take a second name, for which he chose the name Riak. He also comes from the clan Assai and he decided to add this to his full name. Not every ork decides to display their clan name, however, even notable members of their species sometimes opt out of this. A prominent example would be Uigar Kai, the High Shaman of Tairach, who comes from the Siburash tribe, but never took their name as part of his own.
In general, orkish names come in two flavours. Some are harsh, barely more than grunts and growls and sometimes hard to pronounce when not spoken in their native tongue. Others have a strangely exotic sound to them, drawing some mild inspiration from Urdu names, which are common in Pakistan and India. It should be noted that only male orks have a traditional orkish name. Female orks are rarely important enough to require a name, in which case they either choose one for themselves or are addressed by a prominent physical trait. For example, an older orkish woman whose wisdom and experience is respected by her warlord might be given the name Greymane to set her apart from the other women in her tribe. One of the few orkish women who ever rose to a truly prominent position is Coppermoon, the High Priestess of Rikai, who chose her own name and commands her own followers in the Blood Barrier mountains.
Some examples for orkish names would be as follows: Ashim, Azzal, Brazo, Elgai, Garzlokh, Ghazar, Hafaz, Khatar, Khurazz, Morak, Nadir, Ogriz, Riak, Sadrak, Salah, Sarosh, Sharkhush, Tairon, Thukraz, Uigar, Yasin, Yrraz, Zihad, Ziraitach
Some orkish clan names are as follows: Assai, Korogai, Mokolash, Olochtai, Ruazash, Siburash, Shurachai, Truanzhai, Zholochai
Names in the Valley of Svelt don’t follow a clear pattern. As the region itself has little in terms of native culture, most of its settlers can trace their origins back across all of Aventuria. As such, all sorts of names can be found there. A majority of the settlers hails from the northern regions of Aventuria, the Middenrealm and the Bornland. As such, names inspired by traditional English, German or Polish names are most common. Since the orkish occupation, there are residents who have taken on a more Orkish name, to please their new overlords.